As we previously delved into the top trends dominating the education scene, it seems fitting to further explore the movement that’s making it all possible: mobile learning. Through the use of mobile technology, educators are rewiring the education process, taking what typically occurred within a forty-minute class period and stretching it out to meet students where they are… on their devices. As the accepted age for mobile devices drops and daily usage accelerates, there’s really nowhere else to find them. By bringing devices into the learning sphere, doors are being opened for students that never before existed.
How fast is it moving?
According to the NMC Horizon Report 2014: K-12 Edition, the uptake of BYOD in American schools has increased by over 30% in the past year, with 56% of school districts currently implementing BYOD programs. “This model ultimately gives learners ownership of their learning, as they are entrusted to demonstrate their mastery of required competencies in methods of their choosing, and select the technological tools they need to do this. Education researchers highlight BYOD as the technology practice that will best accommodate this vision of personalized learning.” According to further research, 70% of students report a significant increase in motivation for learning using mobile technology.
What are the key benefits?
“One key benefit of having these devices was that it really gave each of my students the opportunity to have a unique experience in my classroom”, says Luis Lucero, a third grade teacher from Soledad, California. “One may expect the learning curve to be high for students who had never used the device previously, but those students (and all others) picked up the basics almost immediately. It really came naturally to all my students.”
While Luis was lucky enough to have been chosen to pilot the 1:1 iPad program for his school district, he is adamant that BYOD is equally possible for lower income schools. “I know of schools and individual teachers/classes holding fundraisers just to raise enough money to purchase a single iPad”, he says. “As long as one single device can be purchased, it can have a hugely positive impact on the class. There is an endless list of ways to utilize a single iPad in a class of 30 or more students.”
What are the challenges?
The challenges with mobile learning appear to be few and far between, aside from ensuring an adequate wifi connection is in place. “The only challenge that really comes to mind is the groans I heard when it was time to put the iPads down or to lock them back up”, says Luis. “I witnessed nothing but positive results. I feel that my students did gain an advantage over others in terms of technology use, critical thinking, and creativity.”
How do educators get started?
“To teachers who have the resources, but are afraid to take the plunge, I say just go for it”, says Luis. “Start out slow, with a few apps that you are immediately comfortable with and grow from there. With just the smallest amount of effort to learn a couple of new apps and how to best use them in the class, it can make a world of difference in the students’ experience.”
Through the use of a student-centered platform like Fishtree, the implementation of a mobile learning environment is simple, and effective. With all necessary resources in one place, and a system that fits into your current infrastructure, educators are reassured that mobile learning is secure and students remain on task. In a collaborative, personalized environment, the mobile learning practice is heightened to give students a 1:1 experience that’s enjoyable, and engaging.
About the author:
Lorna Keane is a teacher of French, English and ESL. She specializes in language teaching and has taught in second and third-level institutions in several countries. She holds a B.A in languages and cultural studies and an M.A in French literature, theory and visual culture. Follow her on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn.